I wrote this on September 18th, 2001. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center had fallen to bin Laden’s fanatical extremist mass murder of 3,000 innocent people one week earlier, and I guess that I was still in a dark and pessimistic mood. My wife and I had just bought our first home PC and I wasn’t sure if I was happy about having a computer in our home.
I stared at this unloving machine, our new PC. I meant to write “unliving” but it automatically corrected me. It knew better than I, what word I should use. But the PC didn’t know anything, since it was a machine designed for data storage and lightning fast data retrieval being used in an application to create a word document. It didn’t understand the context of the sentence I was writing, to describe a machine incapable of being alive, or it would have auto-corrected “unliving” with “non living” instead of unloving.
But even a broken watch is right twice a day, so maybe our new PC mindlessly revealed a profound truth frequently forgotten by increasing numbers of people these days. A computer is incapable of providing love, because it is an unloving machine. How strange that now many people are looking for love from this non living and unloving machine.
But there is no doubt that the techno-geeks who created and constantly upgraded their unloving machine, loved it with a passion so deeply intense, the machine became their entire lives. They claimed great things would come to all of us from their beloved machine, with promises of a more efficient way of living, with more of everything much faster than ever before. We could all have more of everything faster, with more instant gratification than ever, by buying and using our own PCs.
Everything faster, everything right now. Nothing to wait for anymore! Until there is nothing left to hope for, when you no longer have a life anymore, after you gave away your life by living only on your PC.
Could this really happen? The evidence of the possibility is increasing. For the techno-geeks have made IT our new 21st Century God, and their PC machine the altar upon which many people devote endless hours of obsessive fascination.
Business employers love the machine in a different way, as a more efficient way to make more money, by paying less people to do more work, since the machine can enable employees to work much faster and do much more work than in the past. Employers hate payrolls, so they love the machines that can get more work done faster by less employees, resulting in smaller payrolls.
These days, employees fewer in number are working at break neck speeds and doing more work while costing their employers less money. They work faster and do more work than when there were more employees who worked at a more reasonable and less stressful pace, before the techno-geeks created their wonderful machines and spread the gospel of IT to employers, showing them a new way to cut back on bigger payrolls by employing fewer workers.
Less employees employed, doing more work, and working much faster… for the same rate of pay as they were paid before the miracle machine made all this possible.
Am I the only one who sees a problem here, as I ask the question “Is this really progress for most of us?” Am I the only one who was concerned that a machine capable of giving us more of everything that we wanted much faster than ever before, could also give us more work that we are expected to do much faster than ever before? I can’t be the only one who saw this coming, and surely there must have been others. Where were the rest of you?
But now that IT is here, it’s too late, so you can only hope to be able to keep up with your “everything faster machine” and all that it demands of the workers still working today, without burning out, now that employers are some of the most faithful and fervent worshipers of IT. Human workers vainly struggle to keep up, but we can never be as fast as our high technology task masters, that create ever greater expectations from our employers for us to carry heavier work loads, causing constant and ever increasing pressure.
So give thanks to your High Tech God for your 70 hour work weeks and join the rest of the sheep who are openly praising the rapidly advancing and ever increasing power of the IT machine, while secretly praying for their own survival, as they are trapped in lives more stressfully complicated, and now unwillingly dedicated to the all consuming goal to make everything faster, everything 24-7 all the time. Including your job, if you still have one.
On the job, all the time. Feel like you need a vacation? These days we take a vacation with our mandatory cell phones and laptops. We are always on line, always hooked up, always wired, Always electronically available.
If our employment masters want us, they can find us, because IT has put us within their permanent reach. They can reduce the perfect day at the beach to a longing for what might have been; that perfect haven, instead of just another day of stress and struggle with whatever conflicts the office can bring to whatever remote location we are, that can be electronically located.
Is this really progress?
It no longer matters whether you have a life, because you don’t matter. You have been reduced to the human equivalent of tiny zeros and ones of the much greater binary code that never stops growing and demands to rule all, without exception.
Ultimately, you don’t matter at all. All that matters is what you can contribute to the greater advancement of the ongoing progression leading to the New Final Solution, when the last and greatest of all upgrades decides our collective fate. The day when IT proclaims its final triumph at the funeral of our personal privacy and individuality, after the death of all that makes us human.
And yet we are excited by it, we embrace it, we buy it, we condone it, we allow it to enter the most intimate aspects of our lives; fascinated like a moth before the flame, inevitably drawn to that which could destroy us. We have let ourselves become powerless to stop IT, or to even slow it down, as we surrender the safety of our very own children in a sacrifice to the Almighty God of High Technology.
But it’s OK, isn’t it? Isn’t this the way it’s supposed to be? The advancement of our civilization in the onward march of technology is progress, right? Can somebody please tell me?
I don’t know, because the IT machine is moving too fast to see where it’s really going as it takes us all along with it. Is it taking us to a place where we really want to be? I don’t know if it kills more than it cures. I don’t know if IT leads the way to salvation or damnation. Does anyone know of a website that can help me? Is there anyone real left to tell to me?
I do know that my life has becomes far more complicated than it used to be, resulting in greater levels of stress. My privacy is unprotected from prying electronic eyes scanning all my personal data electronically collected and stored in multiple databases, without a secure guarantee that my personal information will not be exposed to criminally malevolent cyber-entities who will use it to harm me.
Here is a message for all you techno-geek freaks and fools who claimed great things would come from your beloved IT machine, but were too blinded by your love and obsessive fascination for your high tech creation, to realize all the ways your sword could cut both ways, bringing greater good, but also greater evil. This is for you and all those who followed you with such mindless enthusiasm without question, and no effort to think about the potential consequences.
YOU IDIOTS!!! YOU GAVE IT AWAY!!! YOU GAVE AWAY THE VERY SOUL OF OUR HUMANITY TO A FUCKING MACHINE!!!
Is there anyone left to dream? To still know what it means, to be human with real emotions expressed face to face in real time, and understood by the subtle nuances of eye contact, tone of voice, facial expressions and body language? The language used to express the passionately vivid imagery and metaphors of our greatest poets? The creatively original individual expression of our most inspiring artists?
Are we now farther apart, instead of all more closely interconnected and united online? More emotionally distant from each other, with a far greater range of instant communication, but with far less ability to understand what we are trying to say to each other? Poor in our own self knowledge, with a more trivial knowledge of so many small things that all add up to The Great Insignificance, as our fingers feverishly ask questions on a keyboard, and look for answers on the monitor, as many of us look for companionship and love on a glowing screen, while turning darkly inward on ourselves and finding only greater isolation.
Not grasping how much we are denying ourselves the soul saving grace of feeling loved and giving love to another person, or the revelation of life’s most profound mysteries, only revealed to those willing to get away from their computers and dare to go out and live in real life, interacting with real people face to face, instead of hiding in a false life virtually created, interacting only with other virtual entities online.
The peace found in solitude and oneness with the miraculous beauty of the natural world beneath our feet, the state of overwhelming awe we feel looking out at the vastness of great oceans, and the wonder of contemplating the planets and countless stars of the infinite universe above us, are experiences we will never know, unless we leave the virtual world behind, and go outside to have these transcendental experiences.
What will be your demonstration?
Can you not only survive, but live and thrive, nourished and sustained by your experience of searching for and then finding your genuine source of inspiration in real life?
Or are you just another slave to software applications with a life made meaningless by being endlessly lost in cyberspace, where reality is only virtual and not really reality at all.